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Malaysia

Melaka's tourism drives prosperity but threatens its charm

As business booms, many locals lament the loss of the city's heritage and old-world vibe

Loud, colorful trishaws are a popular way for visitors to tour Melaka, but are something of an acquired taste, conservationists say. (Photo by Simon Roughneen)

MELAKA, Malaysia -- "Fun" is a subjective concept, as is the even more nebulous "culture." As for "heritage," it is a debatable term too, but can be more or less quantified by the range and antiquity of buildings and monuments that make up a place.

But how about cruising through a UNESCO World Heritage site in a garish Pokemon or Hello Kitty-decor trishaw, a speaker blaring Taylor Swift from the roof and exhorting passers-by to "Shake It Off," as a wizened driver struggles to pedal a cartload of tourists along a cobbled street toward the ruins of a 16th century church? Fun?

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